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Discussion of medical or rescue topics related to climbing and mountaineering.
 

Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:52 pm

To set the record straight, in the state of CA and other western states, homeowners that reside in pre-designated areas, pay extra for certain insurance... earthquake, wildfire, flood etc.

Also, State Wild Fire Code/Laws mandate a clearance of certain 100's of feet from ones residence. It is very common practice that local fire agencies have in fact gone after and received both service and fine money's for residents that did not abide by these wild fire clearance mandates. The local fire agencies in fact hire contractors to clear the brush if the residence blows them off. Then the residence are not only billed for the clearing operation, but are also fined a substantial fee. They are held accountable for their negligent inaction.

If one has ever dealt with a City Building or Fire Inspector and their rule on the local building/Fire code infractions, they know exactly what I am talking about. I have even seen contractors have to tear down a completed portion of what they erected and then have to pay the fine prior to being allowed to continue with their project.

There are many other accountability mandates out there where many negligent people are in fact held accountable for their inept irresponsible behaviors.

BTW: USCG, USAF, ANG and USN SAR will indeed amass a hefty Federal fine AFTER the fact on any incident that is found and deemed negligent after the post operation investigation. Fact! I served on a post accident SAR investigation team for the USN.
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Re: Rescues

Postby surgent » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:00 pm

coldfoot wrote: Most SAR units, county sheriffs etc that I've seen an opinion from on the subject, say the vast majority of their callouts are for day hikers, lost kids, elderly or low-functioning people who wander off, etc. The dramatic searches for backpackers and climbers that make the news are a small fraction.


This is a valid point, but most people who venture into the backcountry are day hikers, etc, so it would be expected that the breakdown in callouts would reflect the "demographics". Most of our callouts were for lost day hikers, nothing too exciting. This happens relatively often. The hard-core climbers, (a) there are relatively few of them compared to the majority of back-country visitors, and (b) they usually know what they are doing. Thus, callouts for them are rare.

coldfoot wrote:The problem is, you are never going to get day hikers and tourists, not to mention lost kids, to buy rescue insurance. Yet we as a society (in the US at least) expect the sheriff's dept to go find them, and I think that's appropriate in a civilized society. I just don't think you can persuade the society to charge day-hikers and kids for rescue. So where do you draw the line about who has to carry the insurance or get charged? Anyone out for an overnight? Anyone on class 3 or greater terrain? Anyone with a rope? Anyone who sprays about climbing on the internet? Anyone wearing a softshell, or with a dead-bird logo?


Requiring insurance would then give the insurers considerable latitude to decide what you can and can't do. They could deny coverage by deeming the angling 3rd-class rock you scrambled and slipped on was "unreasonably reckless". This is a slippery slope (no pun intended). Who would decide what is safe, reckless or unreasonable? (see below)

---

I think some general education on what SAR is and how it works would be ideal. Perhaps a 30-second public service announcement on TV. When people hear of a rescue, they get riled up about the costs. The media often doesn't know enough to set the record straight. For example, they'll show the helicopters and guys on Jeeps (because it makes good TV) and thus, it's easy to conclude this is costing "me" (the taxpayer) a bundle. Instead, focus on the volunteer aspect, the actual immense cost-savings to the general public that SAR provides.

As an example, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team donates money to the Central AZ MRU team whenever a D-back hits a homerun. The announcers also make it a point to briefly describe what CAMRA and SAR in general does. This alone makes a huge difference in perception. Most of my friends and acquaintances had little idea how SAR worked and that we didn't get paid. I'll bet most people don't know this.

Similar anologies exist as other have mentioned. We all pay for EMS/Fire/Police services, yet may never need them ourselves. SAR is no different. It's already part of the mandate of the sheriff/DPS and is already part of its budget. Yes, there will be abuses. But don't fixate on them. For every abuse, there's probably 10 legit cases that never made the news because it was boring and mundane.

Dow's position (to me) is untenable. With much irony, what he proposes, by logical extension, could eventually cut him (and all of us) off from the backcountry, or severely restrict us to activities deemed statistically safest by actuaries. SummitPost would have to change its name to PavedNatureWalkPost.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:33 am

surgent wrote:It's already part of the mandate of the sheriff/DPS and is already part of its budget.


That is currently part of the main point here, and a fundamental law that would have to change if many of the reforms being advocated here were enacted. As long as the County, and in WA the state Department of Emergency Management, are required to respond to emergency requests then volunteer sar is keeping the costs a fraction of what they would be without volunteers.

A5RP wrote:There are many other accountability mandates out there where many negligent people are in fact held accountable for their inept irresponsible behaviors.


As has been pointed out before there is an accountability check in place wherein, at least in WA, the Sheriff has the ability to fine folks for what they consider reckless behavior. As far as seeing it implemented more often, that would probably require a change in the law to mandate that the sheriff's do so.

mrchad9 wrote:Climbers, hikers, weekend warriors, and even tourons are on average fitter than the general population consisting primarily of diabetic and obese lard asses (speaking of the US and not Canada here). There are likely fewer smokers in the outdoor population versus the general public too. Considering the overall cost health care places on our economy I just don’t see a need to create additional fees that might give people another reason to get less exercise. I hardly think people in the outdoors are a burden on society. They are more educated, more productive, pay more taxes, and healthier than many other demographic groups. If the cost of getting people off their butts and out of their homes is a few rescues for the occasional unprepared hiker, then I can live with that. But I suppose that is not at fun as attacking and insulting each other.


I agree.

Dow Williams wrote:Actually you are dead wrong, it is a social and political issue witnessed first hand right here on this thread...you need to be a bit slow not to recognize that....bureaucrats could toil for years to figure it out vs actually getting shit done, but yes it should be charged and collected...controlled access park rescues charged as an across the board user fee is fine by me...nothing is perfectly equitable, there is no perfect world...but that solution, the one Canada uses for their National Parks (you are more likly to pay for Provincial Park rescue) is much more equitable then anything we currently have in the US....your problem is you lack focus...there are people who get things done and folks who just talk about executing plans.....you would talk yourself into circles trying to implement this. Lets hope you do not get a Washington DC job anytime too soon.....don't need any more of that. I am not looking for a perfect plan, just simply passing the approximate costs of SARS to the individual needing the service, if that individual puts themselves in the BC for recreation or hire.

As to my citizenship, sure I am American. But there is no reason for you to be intimidated by folks from other countries getting into this debate if they so desire. Lets call that irrelevant.


In the system you seem to support, those lands regulated by Parks Canada, that is not a charge-for-rescue system, and would be extremely difficult to implement without the adoption of professional rescue response by whichever agency is managing the land in question. In the case of the US this would mean that the BLM, DNR, USFS, etc. would need to somehow fund and operate SAR responses and pay for it through use fees, none of those organizations are able to do that at this time as far as I know.

Thank you for pointing out how I have been wasting my time thinking these things through and talking myself in circles. While you have undoubtedly been one of the folks who "get things done" I would like to think that my and my sar colleagues' contributions to keeping rescue costs low is appreciated by the taxpayer at large. Keep in mind the purpose of volunteer sar is to keep the public costs of climber rescue low, and is fundamentally an issue of keeping government interference and regulation of climbers to a minimum. I don't see how volunteer-driven sar could survive in a charge-for-rescue or user fee system, and without volunteers rescue costs will increase dramatically. If someone sees it differently, describe to me how it could be done.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:47 am

Just got word that due to some very serious fiscal issues in our two counties, things maybe drastically changing as far as the future goes for "Free" SAR's. Both counties are starving for revenue and need to drastically readjust their budgets accordingly. SAR Teams in both counties are very low on totem pole as is. Now they just might be put in the surrounding ditch.

As far as the issue of people thinking twice about calling for help if they know they will be charged. I call BS. Human nature will dictate. They will most assuredly call for help and deal with the monetary issue later. Human nature and the instinct to survive will overwhelm them.

Let's see, I can die cus I aint the cash to pay to get my ass outta this jam. Or, I can live and deal with the material aspect of it all later. Which do I do.... Hmmmm.... HELP/SOS!
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Re: Rescues

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:47 am

In many states Joe Blow can buy a fishing license, which gets him off the hook for the financial liability of a rescue.

Why should climbers have any different liability?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:22 am

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:In many states Joe Blow can buy a fishing license, which gets him off the hook for the financial liability of a rescue.

Why should climbers have any different liability?


Excellent point! $100 a year for SAR insurance. Hell, that is the price of new Alien and a couple of biners.

Please, someone tell me that is not affordable.

It all goes to a central State SAR fund managed by the State's Office of Emergency Services.



PS: All of our International Clients must pay $250 International Helo SAR insurance or they can't go on the trip.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mrchad9 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:49 am

Working class family of four has to pay an extra $400 for their once a year family outing to Yosemite?

If Joe Blow is out in the ocean he need not buy that fishing license to get off the hook for the financial liability of a rescue... Coast Guard will do it for free.

Why should climbers have any different liability?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:20 am

mrchad9 wrote:Working class family of four has to pay an extra $400 for their once a year family outing to Yosemite?


$400?

Nope. They paid their dues when they purchased their entrance permit to the park. YOSAR gets a % allocated to them from every entrance ticket sold to YNP.

Let us not forget that in order to climb Denali, one must now pay a $350 "Mountaineering Fee" . That too covers the cost of a SAR. Same deal with Rainier and any other hill governed by the NPS.

I do not the see the rich and famous folks here (mattyj) on SP whining that they had to pay such an exuberant fee in order to climb that hill.
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Re: Rescues

Postby 96avs01 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:21 am

A5RP wrote:Let us not forget that in order to climb Denali, one must now pay a $350 "Mountaineering Fee" . That too covers the cost of a SAR.


Seems like a bargain to me, especially if Denali is one's first opportunity to experience AK.

I remember a guy from CO having to be flown out after tearing a ligament in his knee while playing whiffle-ball at 14 camp. Definite bargain for him for helo ride out...though I am sure he would have preferred to walk out under his own power if physically able.

Edit: clarify context of quote
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Re: Rescues

Postby mattyj » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:57 am

A5RP wrote:I do not the see the rich and famous folks here (mattyj) on SP whining that they had to pay such an exuberant fee in order to climb that hill.


I have no idea why you're calling me out specifically here, or what you think the point of contention is. It sounds like you and Dow are both okay with covering SAR costs through park entry fees, such that NPS rescues are no-charge. I don't think there's a single person in this thread who feels otherwise. No one is advocating that the taxpayer at large needs to cover all SAR costs, or even against fines/charging in exceptional circumstances, but simply that victims should not be billed for SAR services at a matter of course.

As for Denali, the NPS runs a very involved, high-cost climbing program there and I don't object to them recouping those costs through permit fees. I'm confused - do you? On the subject of me and Denali, I've commented multiple times on this site (example) that I would rather see the NPS scale the program back and charge less for a permit, as their current approach seems to encourage recklessness amongst those so inclined.

The NPS has a very well-defined jurisdiction with an easy way of capturing fees from everyone who enters the park. If there were a similar way to charge everyone who might need SAR services a small fee in order to pay for SAR, a la Colorado's CORSAR card, I wouldn't object. However, that's not what was originally advocated in this thread. Moreover, myself and others have repeatedly pointed out the large volume of non-backcountry callouts that make capturing this group impossible. I can 100% guarantee that in the last 10 years there have been more climbers looking for alzheimers patients than the other way around, and no one is asking the elderly to buy SAR insurance.

It seems to me that charging all hikers/backpackers/climbers/photographers/birders/flower smellers a small upfront fee to cover SAR costs is the exact opposite of the personal responsibility Dow originally espoused. There's a certain cold justice in charging victims the actual costs in incurred, in that individuals are 100% responsible for the risks they take. Charging a blanket fee does not separate the reckless from the safe, does not distinguish between Dow and a family picnic, and if anything, means that people will damn well expect that helicopter they paid for. I'm unclear whether this is what you're advocating or not.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mrchad9 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:30 am

mattyj wrote:It sounds like you and Dow are both okay with covering SAR costs through park entry fees, such that NPS rescues are no-charge. I don't think there's a single person in this thread who feels otherwise.

I feel otherwise. As do the many of the people who actually have the authority to make these decisions.
mattyj wrote:No one is advocating that the taxpayer at large needs to cover all SAR costs.

I am.
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Re: Rescues

Postby SeanReedy » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:18 am

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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:35 pm

Oh do not take it personal Mattyj. Just making a point that it can be done and done in a responsible manner. Denali and Rainier being examples of that.

Far too many in this country have become totally dependent on someone else to point the finger towards or get them outta the jam/s they themselves made the conscience choice to pursue. We are broke and becoming broker by the day because of this entitlement philosophy.

Again, what is $100.00 a year to an individual that pays upwards of $1000.00 a year to purchase new gear for their "hobby"? Hell, I process payments equal to that, daily, for people wanting to be guided here in the Eastern Sierra. And as mentioned here, for the most part, the folks that are requiring assistance in getting their asses saved these days, can most assuredly afford $100.00 a year for such insurance. Most of the weekend warriors out there pay that much alone on gas just for that weekends outing.

Amazingly, even one of the most staunchest of Socialist countries on this planet, France, requires insurance/payment for their SAR efforts throughout their mountain ranges.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mattyj » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:44 pm

mrchad9 - There's a big bucket of money. Some of it comes from park entry fees, some from backcountry permits, some from concession fees. A SAR comes up, so you pull a wad of cash out of the bucket and use it to pay for helicopter fuel. Who paid for the helicopter?

Short of making all federal lands free to access, which is an entirely separate discussion, how do you propose to make NPS SAR taxpayer funded as opposed to user-fee funded? There is no "SAR Fee" built into your $20 entrance fee or $80 yearly pass, it's just another budget item - currently one that works out to 18c/visitor.

Poor wording in my earlier post - I didn't mean to imply that no one shares your opinion, only that arguing for no-charge rescue does not imply a stance on how rescue ultimately gets funded (user fees v. tax dollars). But it seems kind of silly to argue about which funding source is paying for which budget item.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:48 pm

Funds are are pre allocated to the local Parks SAR from that specific Park's entrance fees. The specific Park set their own allocation requirements for SAR ops. They also will incorporate an additional "Service Fee" if deemed necessary, to cover any additional operational costs that go above and beyond what their in house budget allows for SAR operations. Evidenced by Denali's "Mountaineering Fee". Not from any annual passes. These are not considered a "SAR FEE" perse, either.

It helps to have an understanding and personal experience as to how governmental agencies, NPS, USFS, BLM & the DOD, utilize their allotted Annual Operational Funding Accounts, or OPTAR. Also, both external and internal operational budget/accounts. Each specific NP has set up within their internal allocated budgets, a specific percentage for SAR OPS as well as making operational agreements with local DOD and/or STATE, COUNTY LE SAR capable/cert'd resources, for assistance if need be.

Of course, the USFS has their own SAR, WFF & EP Protocol/Agreements which are a completely different animal.
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